Topics

To Beeswax or not to Beeswax: that is the question.


Roy Thistle
 

Hi All:
Yes, there are some threads about beeswax... and many more posts about beeswax, in other threads too... usually about using beeswax in/with transformers.
In this tread, I want us to try to get to the bottom of the topic.
I have a feeling, it'll be like herding a clowder... but here goes.
--
Roy Thistle


Roy Thistle
 

My first question would be, "Exactly, what is beeswax?"
--
Roy Thistle


 

Oddly, the wikipedia entry does not list any use for beeswax in electronics, either current or historical, similarly the electrical properties of beeswax are not discussed.

I'm very curious how beeswax came to be used in transformers; whether it was chosen for specific chemical, electrical or physical properties, or if the use was more accidental (beeswax, being in common use for many other purposes, could easily have found its way into electronics manufacture simply by being handy).

-- Jeff Dutky


Tom Lee
 

Faraday himself was one of the first, if not the first, to use beeswax in a coil and transformer. I’ll have to look that up again to confirm the details but in his case I believe it was just a convenient way to hold things together. Candle wax and sealing wax were among his other favorites (er, favourites).

Tom

Sent from my iThing, so please forgive brevity and typos

On Mar 5, 2021, at 20:31, Jeff Dutky <jeff.dutky@gmail.com> wrote:

Oddly, the wikipedia entry does not list any use for beeswax in electronics, either current or historical, similarly the electrical properties of beeswax are not discussed.

I'm very curious how beeswax came to be used in transformers; whether it was chosen for specific chemical, electrical or physical properties, or if the use was more accidental (beeswax, being in common use for many other purposes, could easily have found its way into electronics manufacture simply by being handy).

-- Jeff Dutky





 

Tom,

Sealing wax, according to wikipedia, can contain beeswax. I'm a little surprised that candle wax would be used to try to hold a transformer together, my impression of it is that it is both brittle and slippery, especially compared to either beeswax or sealing wax (the latter being known for its tackiness). I would think that you would want something that was a little sticky to keep the windings in place.

Other obvious candidates would seem to be things like shellac, pine sap, animal glues, and natural rubbers (e.g. latex). Again, my rudimentary research on Wikipedia yields very few details about the electrical properties of most of these substances, with the exception of shellac, which is mentioned as having been used "for fixing inductor, motor, generator and transformer windings."

-- Jeff Dutky


Tom Lee
 

Candles of the Regency era were of variable composition, depending on what you were willing to spend. Faraday used whatever was handy to get the job done. He didn’t need to immerse his coils completely in sealants. His goals were modest: Just keep the thing together long enough to finish his experiments. His “Experimental Researches in Electricity” is a fun read, with lots of bits that we might find quaint and charming, but given that there was no electrical parts industry, he naturally improvised with what was at hand. That included gutta-percha, which he discovered was a fantastic insulator — and a thermoplastic one at that — allowing the first undersea telegraph cables to be made (including the first to bridge the Atlantic). It also revolutionized dentistry (where it is still used) and gave us the first non-feather core golf balls.

He was inspired to use silk-covered wire when he learned from his wife that bonnets were stiffened by iron wires around which silk thread was wound (to reduce staining from the iron).

—Tom

Sent from my iThing, so please forgive typos and brevity.

On Mar 5, 2021, at 9:27 PM, Jeff Dutky <jeff.dutky@gmail.com> wrote:

Tom,

Sealing wax, according to wikipedia, can contain beeswax. I'm a little surprised that candle wax would be used to try to hold a transformer together, my impression of it is that it is both brittle and slippery, especially compared to either beeswax or sealing wax (the latter being known for its tackiness). I would think that you would want something that was a little sticky to keep the windings in place.

Other obvious candidates would seem to be things like shellac, pine sap, animal glues, and natural rubbers (e.g. latex). Again, my rudimentary research on Wikipedia yields very few details about the electrical properties of most of these substances, with the exception of shellac, which is mentioned as having been used "for fixing inductor, motor, generator and transformer windings."

-- Jeff Dutky





Merchison Burke
 

Back in the 1960s, beeswax was used in RF and IF transformers (which used powdered iron cores for tuning) to secure the cores after tuning.

On 2021-03-06 12:27 a.m., Jeff Dutky wrote:
Tom,

Sealing wax, according to wikipedia, can contain beeswax. I'm a little surprised that candle wax would be used to try to hold a transformer together, my impression of it is that it is both brittle and slippery, especially compared to either beeswax or sealing wax (the latter being known for its tackiness). I would think that you would want something that was a little sticky to keep the windings in place.

Other obvious candidates would seem to be things like shellac, pine sap, animal glues, and natural rubbers (e.g. latex). Again, my rudimentary research on Wikipedia yields very few details about the electrical properties of most of these substances, with the exception of shellac, which is mentioned as having been used "for fixing inductor, motor, generator and transformer windings."

-- Jeff Dutky



--
This email has been checked for viruses by AVG.
https://www.avg.com


Tom Lee
 

Beeswax is quite versatile. Old tech, perhaps, but versatile nonetheless. Bees sure seem to be fond of it!

Tom

--
Prof. Thomas H. Lee
Allen Ctr., Rm. 205
350 Jane Stanford Way
Stanford University
Stanford, CA 94305-4070
http://www-smirc.stanford.edu

On 3/5/2021 23:09, Merchison Burke via groups.io wrote:
Back in the 1960s, beeswax was used in RF and IF transformers (which used powdered iron cores for tuning) to secure the cores after tuning.



On 2021-03-06 12:27 a.m., Jeff Dutky wrote:
Tom,

Sealing wax, according to wikipedia, can contain beeswax. I'm a little surprised that candle wax would be used to try to hold a transformer together, my impression of it is that it is both brittle and slippery, especially compared to either beeswax or sealing wax (the latter being known for its tackiness). I would think that you would want something that was a little sticky to keep the windings in place.

Other obvious candidates would seem to be things like shellac, pine sap, animal glues, and natural rubbers (e.g. latex). Again, my rudimentary research on Wikipedia yields very few details about the electrical properties of most of these substances, with the exception of shellac, which is mentioned as having been used "for fixing inductor, motor, generator and transformer windings."

-- Jeff Dutky





John Atwood
 

Microcrystalline wax, derived from petroleum, is similar in consistency to beeswax: sticky and non-brittle. Its melting point is below that of boiling water, so can be safely melted using a double-boiler. It is available in slabs from companies that cater to candle-makers. I’ve used it to pot transformers, although not under vacuum.

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microcrystalline_wax for more information.

- John Atwood


TomC
 

Thank you for mentioning Faraday's “Experimental Researches in Electricity”. I hadn't known about it and have now ordered a copy.

I visited the Faraday museum in London in 2001 and look forward to reading about "the rest of the story".

Tom

On 3/5/2021 9:43 PM, Tom Lee wrote:
Candles of the Regency era were of variable composition, depending on what you were willing to spend. Faraday used whatever was handy to get the job done. He didn’t need to immerse his coils completely in sealants. His goals were modest: Just keep the thing together long enough to finish his experiments. His “Experimental Researches in Electricity” is a fun read, with lots of bits that we might find quaint and charming, but given that there was no electrical parts industry, he naturally improvised with what was at hand. That included gutta-percha, which he discovered was a fantastic insulator — and a thermoplastic one at that — allowing the first undersea telegraph cables to be made (including the first to bridge the Atlantic). It also revolutionized dentistry (where it is still used) and gave us the first non-feather core golf balls.
He was inspired to use silk-covered wire when he learned from his wife that bonnets were stiffened by iron wires around which silk thread was wound (to reduce staining from the iron).
—Tom


Jim Adney
 

New member, so forgive me if this has already been discussed here, but I
THINK transformer and inductor windings are typically impregnated with a
thermosetting varnish of some kind. The one I'm familiar with is Glyptol,
made by GE for motor windings. It's expensive and has found favor in other
areas, and I suspect that large industrial users have something more
affordable. I don't know what that might be.

I have used clear model airplane dope on small, single layer inductors (Tek
T-coils) when I've had to rewind them. That worked well for small things that
don't get hot. Glyptol would be better if it's likely to get warm. I've used
Glyptol on automotive starters, alternators, and generators.

I've replaced old capacitors that looked like they were sealed with yellow
wax. It looked like beeswax, but whatever it was, it didn't want to melt.

FYI, most of my Tek projects are in Tek 3 series plugins. I have a very nice
564B/121N that's does almost everything I might want in the low frequency
realm, but there's also a very nice 465B here if the 564B runs out of
headroom. I also have a more modern TDS 220, which is nice for its
portability, but it has a total lack of class.

--
*******************************
Jim Adney, jadney@vwtype3.org
Madison, Wisconsin, USA
*******************************


Jean-Paul
 

Hello Jim, I have designed and mfg HV transformers since 1970s.

We used double and tripe or even quad build wire, and specials winding configurations.

The Impregnation is either a special vacuum varnish designed for electric transformer use or highly filled special epoxy.

We could not use consumer type materials.

The root problem is that high voltage and high frequency will produce ozone and eventually break down any voids, bubbles or cracks that allow the air entrapped or outside the part to ionize.

60 Hz transformes are easier but above a few KV can also breakdown the air.

Once creep or strike start a carbon track is formed leading to progressive failure.

Heat and mechanical stress can deteriorate the insulating materials with time.

I hope this is useful to you,


Kind Regards,


Jon


Roy Thistle
 

On Mon, Mar 8, 2021 at 08:40 AM, Jim Adney wrote:


Glyptol
G.E. is no longer into it... and Glyptol is now a brand (for at least a couple decades)... and like a famous de-oxidising snake oil (not really for snakes: either the plumbing kind... or the reptile kind) ... anyway... like that product's marketing ... Glyptol (the company) has diversified the name Glytol (the product) over their copious product line... so much so that no one knows ... I claim... just what one means by Glyptol anymore.
The original Glyptol was a kind of alkyd polymer ... available both as an oil based paint, to let air dry... and available as a theromsetting polymer, by baking it ... it became much harder and much more durable coating. (I'd go more into the chemistry... but some people in this forum fear chemicals more than they fear the devil... so to speak.)
Yes. I believe when G.E. developed Glyptol (or it was developed for them) that Glyptol was a superior product for manufacturing, at least, motor windings.

--
Roy Thistle


greenboxmaven
 

Glyptol was a General Electric product. It was used extensively for motor and transformer windings, and did it's job very well. Otis Elevator used it for general painting of car frames, machine room,  and hoistway equipment as well. It is very durable, remains glossy over the years, protects against rust, but is also rather brittle. It chips away from an impact site or drilled hole like porcelian enamel on a kettle, and is difficult to grind away if you need to weld or solder.  I was told the original was discontinued because of environmental concerns.

      Bruce Gentry, KA2IV

On 3/8/21 17:35, Roy Thistle wrote:
On Mon, Mar 8, 2021 at 08:40 AM, Jim Adney wrote:

Glyptol
G.E. is no longer into it... and Glyptol is now a brand (for at least a couple decades)... and like a famous de-oxidising snake oil (not really for snakes: either the plumbing kind... or the reptile kind) ... anyway... like that product's marketing ... Glyptol (the company) has diversified the name Glytol (the product) over their copious product line... so much so that no one knows ... I claim... just what one means by Glyptol anymore.
The original Glyptol was a kind of alkyd polymer ... available both as an oil based paint, to let air dry... and available as a theromsetting polymer, by baking it ... it became much harder and much more durable coating. (I'd go more into the chemistry... but some people in this forum fear chemicals more than they fear the devil... so to speak.)
Yes. I believe when G.E. developed Glyptol (or it was developed for them) that Glyptol was a superior product for manufacturing, at least, motor windings.


Ed Breya
 

I'm pretty sure that at least for non-high voltage transformers, Tek used a black polyurethane varnish for impregnation. I recall long ago, I picked up a couple of expired gallon cans at the Country Store. I never used it for transformers, but it made a great restoring material for rusted steel. On my "rust-bucket" '68 MGB project, I stripped the interior, and washed it thoroughly, then coated the whole inside with this stuff. The metal was OK, except the floorboards were full of pinholes and some up to maybe 1/8 D, and spongy in some places. The goop was thin enough to soak into the spongy parts, yet thick enough to just slop on and cover everything nicely, even bridging the holes, and made it very strong.

Ed


Li Gangyi
 

I've always thought it was called Glyptal? I'm still using it for some
instances where I'd have to lock a potentiometer in place after tweaking
it, in a high vibe environment.

On Mon, Mar 8, 2021 at 8:03 PM Ed Breya via groups.io <edbreya=
yahoo.com@groups.io> wrote:

I'm pretty sure that at least for non-high voltage transformers, Tek used
a black polyurethane varnish for impregnation. I recall long ago, I picked
up a couple of expired gallon cans at the Country Store. I never used it
for transformers, but it made a great restoring material for rusted steel.
On my "rust-bucket" '68 MGB project, I stripped the interior, and washed it
thoroughly, then coated the whole inside with this stuff. The metal was OK,
except the floorboards were full of pinholes and some up to maybe 1/8 D,
and spongy in some places. The goop was thin enough to soak into the spongy
parts, yet thick enough to just slop on and cover everything nicely, even
bridging the holes, and made it very strong.

Ed






Roy Thistle
 

On Tue, Mar 9, 2021 at 06:47 AM, Li Gangyi wrote:


I've always thought it was called Glyptal?
Hi Li:
Yes. The OP about it spelled it "Gyptol" ... but, in the U.S., at least, it's brand named Glyptal.
--
Roy Thistle


Roy Thistle
 

On Mon, Mar 8, 2021 at 04:00 PM, greenboxmaven wrote:


I was told the original [Glyptal] was discontinued because of environmental concerns.
Hi greenboxmaven:
The original Glyptal was just phthalic acid [phthalic anhydride] and glycerine [glycerol] both chemicals that are massively produced and used in world wide industry. Glyptal was one of the first alkyd resins. It's quite old. (100 years?) Glycerine is in your makeup... and phthalic acid is in plastics all over the place.
The reason I mentioned that the name Glyptal is one that doesn't provide a useful distinction is that Glyptal is a brand... not a unique thing... and there are many formulations branded "Glyptal" that are significantly modified by the introduction of solvents, accelerants, pigments, binders... and snake oil.
Usually a product branded Glyptal has a product code that identifies its formulation. Different Glyptal formulations don't have the same properties, or application.
The orignal Glyptal was a thermosetting alkyd resin that required baking to develop its desired properties.
The paint on... or spray on... Glyptal isn't the same stuff.
--
Roy Thistle


Roy Thistle
 

On Mon, Mar 8, 2021 at 10:08 AM, Jean-Paul wrote:


The root problem is that high voltage and high frequency will produce ozone
and eventually break down any voids, bubbles or cracks that allow the air
entrapped or outside the part to ionize.
Hi JP:
Yes. Ozone is very reactive and corrosive.
I think the idea of using "beeswax" is that... being a "wax" that melts at low temperatures... and perhaps having some properties that absorb ozone (and/or its reaction products that promote arcing) ... then as local arcing commences, and the transformer heats up (which it will)... the "beeswax" will melt there and fill in the void, extinguish the arc, and absorb products produced by the arcing that would otherwise promote arcing.
If we knew more about what "beeswax" was ... and it is not one chemical compound, but a homogeneous mixture of many unique chemical compounds. (The melting point of beeswax is given as a range... a sign it is not a pure... and perhaps not a unique chemical compound.) There are many "waxy" substances called beeswax, and they are not the same things.
Knowing what makes "beeswax" beeswax (as people call just similar things beeswax)... might help us to understand what it does (or doesn't do), for potting/insulating hi-voltage transformers.
Best regards.

--
Roy Thistle


Richard Knoppow
 

My impression is that potting or coating compounds are ofte a mixture of bee's wax and rosin. Maybe of different waxes. To fill the voids it may be necessary to boil the transformer (or whatever) in it.
    BTW, one of the greatest industrial secrets was the formulation of the wax blanks used for cutting records.

On 3/9/2021 10:54 AM, Roy Thistle wrote:
On Mon, Mar 8, 2021 at 10:08 AM, Jean-Paul wrote:

The root problem is that high voltage and high frequency will produce ozone
and eventually break down any voids, bubbles or cracks that allow the air
entrapped or outside the part to ionize.
Hi JP:
Yes. Ozone is very reactive and corrosive.
I think the idea of using "beeswax" is that... being a "wax" that melts at low temperatures... and perhaps having some properties that absorb ozone (and/or its reaction products that promote arcing) ... then as local arcing commences, and the transformer heats up (which it will)... the "beeswax" will melt there and fill in the void, extinguish the arc, and absorb products produced by the arcing that would otherwise promote arcing.
If we knew more about what "beeswax" was ... and it is not one chemical compound, but a homogeneous mixture of many unique chemical compounds. (The melting point of beeswax is given as a range... a sign it is not a pure... and perhaps not a unique chemical compound.) There are many "waxy" substances called beeswax, and they are not the same things.
Knowing what makes "beeswax" beeswax (as people call just similar things beeswax)... might help us to understand what it does (or doesn't do), for potting/insulating hi-voltage transformers.
Best regards.
--
Richard Knoppow
dickburk@ix.netcom.com
WB6KBL